I’d not be surprised (nor critical) if sweeping homeless encampments took a recess during this Covid crisis. Some people cannot meet their rent as unemployment persists. And city government has more pressing matters than these persistent and pop-up “Hoovervilles.”

But the biggest hutments on our streets and sidewalks are not healthy for the campers and can pose a public health nuisance due to indiscriminate defecation and wholly unsanitary lifestyles.

 April 2015 photo of people who are homeless camping along a canal.

That said, it’s true that what’s needed is additional solution suggestions rather than just your and my criticisms.

The city started a solution. It did not carry it forward far enough.

It set up a homeless-sanctuary in a section of the Sand Island Park.

My suggestion: turn the whole of the barely-used park into both a governed portion with temporary quarters and sanitation facilities. Use the rest as an individual-tent area where the hard-core who live on the streets can relocate as an alternative to having their possessions-on-public-property tossed into the landfill as a result of city sweeps.

In other words, here’s your choice: pack up for Sand Island or say goodbye to all your stuff here.

And in addition to providing sanitation facilities and outreach at Sand Island, the city also should operate a daytime school bus shuttle on a route that includes IHS and other feeding stations, labor department offices, and the center of downtown.

The park must have a permanent police presence, an ambulance, and a skilled homeless mediator on hand 24/7.

As soon as the sanctuary is up and running, sidewalk living should be uncompromisingly prohibited.

Special handling will have to be added for those too mentally impaired to understand their circumstances. We already deal with that with street counselors. Now we need a state law that permits involuntary treatment upon present to any judge of an affidavit of need. Sort of like getting a search warrant signed.

Our current efforts are not working. Compassion and compromise have limited effectiveness.

Sometimes you have to say “here’s the way it’s going to be.”

Our current homeless statistics of more than 6,500 any given day and 45 homeless per 10,000 general population are simply not acceptable from a health standpoint.

It’s time to go drastic.

                  —-30—-

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

3 replies on “This Is Not Acceptable”

  1. 👏👏👏Bravo, Bob, well stated! An excellent suggestions, and so simple, so practical! There are quite a hew homeless in my area that I volunteer for pick up. Perhaps then we seniors will feel safe to walk daily on the sidewalks. Plus these unfortunate people will have the needed care, shelter.

  2. Meth, handouts, and half-measures are a recipe for disaster.
    This frog has been boiling for decades.
    Drastic measures were needed long before enormous semi-permanent public encampments and shantytowns became so prevalent that they’re no longer shocking.
    But Hawaii is not a place for clear decisions and strong leadership. It’s a place for half-measures, confusion, empty posturing, finger-pointing, distraction, denial, and misplaced compassion that enables drug addiction and misery.
    Housing, serious rehab, and strict and consistent enforcement are desperately needed.
    But maybe if we just look the other way… And those damned evil telescopes!

  3. Great suggestions and thank you, Bob! I forwarded a link to this column to Mayor Caldwell, Team Amemiya and Team Blangiardi.

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